December 31, 2007

On my favorite things from 2007

I don't have the money or time to listen to all the music I want, read all the books I desire or see all the movies that come I couldn't pick a top ten list of any of those things. Or they at least wouldn't all be from 2007. So I'll just make a list of all my favorite things from this, the year of our Lord two thousand seven. Many of these things aren't actually from 2007, but this is just when I happen to get around to them.

In no particular order:

1. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible: So flipping good. G
o to to see an interactive video their song Neon Bible. It's kind of freaky, in a classic horror movie sort of way, but I couldn't take my eyes off it and watched it at least four times this weekend.

2. Rosie Thomas, These Friends of Mine: I love her voice and how innocent it sounds. She's friends with Sufjan Stevens, so that automatically makes her worth listening to. I could listen to Paper Doll on repeat for hours.

3. Over the Rhine, The Trumpet Child: How the heck have I gone this long and never heard of or listened to these people? Her voice! His songs! So good. Whenever I listen to The Trumpet Child, I feel like I'm sitting in a smoky bar with low lights and a good drink.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The perfect end to an amazing series. I laughed, I cried like a baby, and I didn't want it to end.

5. Radiohead, In Rainbows: Even if the music sucked (which it didn't), the fact that you could pay what you want was brilliant.
Not only did they pull the greatest marketing ploy ever (gotta love it when a musician sticks it to the out-of-touch recording industry and actually succeeds), but the album was worth every pound you paid (or didn't pay). Most people seem to be choosing Weird Fishes/Arpeggio as their favorite, but Nude has to be my favorite. That base line gives me goosebumps.

6. This site is for anyone who loves one-of-a-kind and handmade artwork, crafts, clothes, and accessories. It's kind of like eBay for artists, except you don't bid on things. Anyone can open up their own Etsy shop and sell their wares. Most of the items are more expensive than what you'd buy at Target or even Urban Outfitters (depending on what you're buying), but you get items you aren't likely to see at your friend's house. And you're supporting artists because the money goes straight to them. Bonus!

Sex God by Rob Bell: I've only read it through once and I want to read it again to get the big picture. Bell has a way of taking something complex and profound and making it completely accessible to anyone. This book not only makes an excellent case for abstinence and its beauty, but it uses the traditions found in the Old Testament to show God's love for each of us. There is so much more to this book, but I'm trying to be succinct. Just go read it.

8. Bishop Allen, The Broken String: This group is so much stinking fun, I can hardly stand it. They don't make any profound statements with their music or even do anything groundbreaking, but it's mindless fun. I've heard they're great live because they seem to just be excited to be playing their music.

9. Waitress: I feel like the majority of good movies this year were depressing, but Waitress left a smile on my face. I'm a big Keri Russell fan and she's great in this film. It will also inspire you to go home and bake a pie or two or fourteen.

10. Anne of Green Gables: This movie was actually made in 1985, but I didn't see it for the first time until this summer. It's absolutely adorable and will make you want to move to a small town, buy an old farmhouse, and adopt a red-headed girl (and then bake pies like Keri Russell in Waitress, heh heh).

11. Casino Royale: This is the only Bond movie I've ever seen and I loved it. Part of me never wants to watch another Bond movie so I can maintain the image of Bond from this film in my mind. The womanizing picture of Bond doesn't appeal to me. Shocking, I know.

12. Friday Night Lights: I was late to the game (no pun intended) with this show (as I was for Lost, Arrested Development and The Office), but every single one of you need to watch this show. Put it on your Netflix cue right now and be prepared to fall in love with this show, its characters and its well-written gloriousness.

13. Jane Eyre: BBC made this marvelous four-hour version of one of my favorite books and then Masterpiece Theater aired it. This is one of the few 'chick' novels that I believe many guys would also enjoy and the BBC did an excellent job on this version. The scene right after Jane saves Rochester's life is reason enough to watch this series over and over again.

14. Waterdeep, Heart Attack Time Machine: I'm a sucker for acoustic music and anything Waterdeep or Enter the Worship Circle puts out. This album did not disappoint. They have a way of telling simple stories in a profound way, all while making you love the music they've put with the story.

15. Lost: I watched the first season on DVD in two days (it was exam week...what else was I going to do?). Season three had its ups and downs, but the season finale blew me away. The one resounding reason I want the writer's strike to end is so I can see the entire fourth season of Lost uninterrupted.

Honorable mentions: Joanna Newsom, Spoon (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), Band Marino (The Sea and the Beast), Till we Have Faces by CS Lewis, Pushing Daisies, Chuck, Feist (The Reminder)

Things I abhored this year: The Squid and the Whale, Man of the Year (has Robin Williams just given up making good movies?), The Break-Up, American Idol (there. I said it. I can't stand that show)

That's all for now. Here's to the new year and what lies ahead.

December 14, 2007

On Glow-in-the-Dark Cats

This might be the most disturbing thing I've seen in a long time:

Cloned cats that glow

Apparently, since scientists in Korea have cured all other diseases, ended poverty and gotten rid of all the potholes in South Korea, they've decided to clone cats and make them glow in the dark.

Okay, I admit, they apparently do have some sort of medical and scientific reason for doing this. But seriously--follow the link and you will be witness to some scary-looking kittens. As if the glowing eyes that cats have naturally isn't scary enough, now their whole face glows.

December 12, 2007

On Putting a Stop to the Madness (of the Trix Rabbit)

I submit that the following should be discontinued and forgotten and never used again:

1. Using the "Got Milk?" ad campaign for things other than the "Got Milk?" campaign.
For example, churches are no longer allowed to name a sermon series (or any of their other events) "Got God?" We must put a stop to the overuse of this "Got ____?" epidemic. It's old. Really, really old.

2. Using the Mastercard "Priceless" ad campaign for things other than the "Priceless" campaign. People, people, people. It's only cute when Mastercard does this. Even then, it can get old. We get it. Some things are priceless. Some things are not. Most of the things that are priceless are abstract lessons or memories or events that we'll take pictures of and then make elaborate scrapbook pages about. We know and we weep with pleasure that the world has finally realized that the important things are priceless and can't be bought. Now let's all go to the mall and buy some more stuff using our Mastercard.

3. Carrot Top. Yes, he's a person, so we can't really get rid of him. But he's really annoying and should be forgotten and never brought up again.

4. Papyrus font. I'll admit it: I used to like this font. It's textured! And slightly different from your average sans serif font! But then it started showing up everywhere. Churches embraced it with a fervor not seen since those disgusting communion wafers were invented! Wedding planners loved it and thought it evoked a sense of romanticism! And thus was born the era of Papyrus font. We must throw off the chains of this light but oh-so-gripping font. It is not good for signage (too thin to see from far away) and the world is full of fonts that evoke romanticism and have texture coming out their wazoo. Yes, their wazoo! So let's stop using Papyrus and let it rest in peace, knowing that it had its 15 minutes of fame in the early years of this grand century of ours.

5. Ripping off Macintosh's use of 'lowercase syllable + uppercase syllable = trendy product' formula. Anything made by Macintosh starts with a lowercase 'i'--iPod, iMac, iBook, etc. And since any and all Mac-related products are automatically trendy, marketing executives and
Corporate America embraced this formula like it was pure gold dipped in platinum and sprinkled with diamond dust. They held tight to the belief that people will assume that anything using this formula is not to be lived without. I must have it. I must.

6. Not letting the Trix rabbit have Trix. Call me crazy, but I found it highly distressing as a youngster that they wouldn't let the poor rabbit have some Trix. Why are Trix only for kids? Do they have some sort of chemical or vitamin or mineral that is poisonous to rabbits and will cause their floppy ears and bushy tail to fall off? Is the rabbit really a metaphor for adults, and they're saying that Trix are only for those who are young and don't care about the sugar content in cereals? Are they saying that, as an adult, we shouldn't want Trix or we shouldn't eat it even if we want it? What are they trying to tell us? Either way, I don't think it's very nice to discriminate against a poor rabbit who just wants some cereal. Aren't there laws against that?

That's all for now. Feel free to add your own entries to the list. Together, maybe we can put a stop to the needless overuse of these marketing ploys.

December 7, 2007

On Wasting Money

At the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale's $1.3 million Christmas Pageant is more Broadway extravaganza than local production.

Could they really not think of a better way to spend $1.3 million? Is Fort Lauderdale some sort of Utopian society, with no needy people? I'm sure if that's true, there are other communities close to them that could use the $1.3 million to help out some people. Do they really think fireworks and flying angels will bring people to God better than a 'normal' Christmas program? If I remember correctly, it's not impressive displays of pyrotechnics (or any human endeavor) that brings people to Christ, but the Holy Spirit.

I'm just saying. Surely they could have thought of a better way to spend $1.3 MILLION.

December 6, 2007

On Knowing the Whole Story

Nobody likes knowing half the story, except perhaps so they might be able to continue living in denial. But when the whole story helps make the experience fuller and richer, it's safe to say we all like to know the full story. A current example that comes to mind are the Harry Potter books and movies. I am an avid fan of the Harry Potter franchise. If I told you the extent of my fanhood, you'd probably decide I'm insane and stop reading, because who wants to read the blog of a crazy person?

Anyway, my friend (a fellow Harry fan) and I have discussed on numerous occasions the many faults of the HP movies, particularly the third movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Overall, we love the movies, but we of course would rather the movies be five hours long and included every detail of the books. We are aware of our full-fledged crazy. If you had never read the books and went to see the movie, you'd be missing plot points and details that would further enrich your Harry Potter experience. The two most blatant examples are the marauder's map and the form of Harry's Patronus (a stag). For those who haven't read the books or seen the movies, first I must ask where the heck you've been in the last ten years. Second, I'll explain what each of these things are.

The Marauder's Map is a map of Hogwarts that shows where every single person or animal is located in the school. Tiny dots with labels move all over the map, enabling the user to see if anyone is coming to ruin their fun or mischief. The makers of this map were Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Later in the book we find out that these four people were actually Harry's father and three friends. Each of them could turn into animals (Moony was a werewolf and didn't turn on purpose, the others did so on purpose) and so these nicknames corresponded with their animals. Harry's father transformed into a stag, so his name was Prongs. This brings us to the Patronus.

A Patronus is created using a spell and protects the witch or wizard. Each wizard's Patronus takes the shape of an animal that is either meaningful to them or has qualities similar to them. So what shape does Harry's Patronus take? A stag. Like his father's animal form.
You're probably wondering why I just explained all of that. In the movie, each of these facts is completely disregarded. Viewers never learn that Harry's father and friends made the map or that his father's animal form was a stag. This bothered me because I felt like these two facts would have given the story and the characters more depth. We could have learned more about the character of Harry's father and more about Harry's feelings toward his father. We could have learned some history of Harry's family. Instead, we got a ten minute scene with the knight bus, a completely irrelevant part of the story. I'm still bitter.

Now let's bring it all in. I'm assuming we all agree that knowing all the facts of a story helps to make a story better and more meaningful. Granted, in many instances it's impossible to know the full story and fit all the facts in. Whenever someone complains about the media being one-sided or not telling all the facts, I remind them that if we told every single fact, news stories would each last an hour or take half a day to read. The media has to pick and choose which facts they believe are most important. Does that result in lopsided storytelling? Sometimes, yes. But if you have a problem with it, read more than one story on the same subject. Read CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. But I digress.

Most people avoid reading the Old Testament. It's long and wordy and there are a lot of rules. It's hard to pronounce the names. And don't even try to get them to read about the history of those times (using outside sources). But I believe we're missing so much of God's character and His plan when we only read the New Testament. We only know the major details of half the story! We all hear about how angry God seemed in the Old Testament, yet we avoid reading it for ourselves. The Israelites didn't exactly make it easy on themselves. I've always enjoyed reading and learning about history, believing that it will help us understand the actions and culture of the people at the time. I think if we knew more about the culture and way of life for the characters in the Old Testament and the world at the time, we would gain a better and richer understanding of the stories and of God.

I guess all I'm saying is that we've gotten used to reading the highlights and just getting the gist of stories and of history. If our belief system (Christianity) is more than just a set of rules to live by, but it's a lifestyle that permeates every facet of our being, then shouldn't we know more about it? Shouldn't we know where we came from so we know where we're going? So we can fully understanding where we're going and why we're going there?

December 3, 2007

On the angry gods: A video from CNN

CNN did a short segment on Rob Bell and his rising popularity and spoke particularly about his book Sex God. The segment, of course, couldn't fully explain Rob's views on everything or even fully explain some of what he said in the segment, but it's a pretty good video. He's blatant about the importance of abstinence, but makes it sound like something amazing, rather than something churches have come up with to keep people under their thumb. It's obvious even from this short video that Rob is different from pastor superstar Joel Osteen because Rob actually has opinions that are contrary to the culture as a whole and he isn't afraid to express those views. In a similar piece I saw on CNN about Osteen, he wouldn't answer questions about his views on homosexuality or abortion.

Anyway, the video is here.

December 1, 2007

On the angry gods: Part 3

God is a God of freedom and love. He freed the Israelites and Abraham's descendents from having to make sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice--never knowing where they stood with God. Then He sent His son as the final sacrifice, the pure and perfect lamb.

I'll be honest--this is when my memory of exactly what Rob Bell said gets fuzzy. It's been more than a week since I saw him. But I'll quote this to you:

"Repentance of sin is just waking up to what God has already done."

This makes me think of the quote from CS Lewis: "Prayer doesn't change God, it changes us."

God is finished in the sense that He knows exactly what is going to happen. He has already forgiven us and made His plans. He knew us before we were born and knew exactly who'd we become and what decisions we'd make. He knows the desires of our hearts and what sins we'll commit. And He loves us. Something Rob has said in interviews and during his message was that God loves us all--those who embrace His message and ask for forgiveness, as well as those who do not and reject Him. He's gotten flak for this and many Christians believe that God only loves those who have accepted Christ as their savior. My first instinct is to side with Rob and say that God loves all humans, inside or outside of communion with Him. I don't have a lot to back this up with, other than the fact that He created us and I don't imagine He flips a switch between love and hate whenever we convert to Christianity.

The last half of Rob's message expounded on God's love for us. He is not a God who sits in heaven, waiting for us to make a mistake and zap us. He loves us and desires for us to love Him and love others and have a real relationship with us. Rob told stories of people he knows and how their lives have been changed by Christ. People who were abused physically, mentally and emotionally. People who lived in poverty and were touched by another Christian. We only have the ability to love like this because our faith has given us this ability (my own thought--not Rob's).

One important story he told was a personal story of how he used to work constantly and was miserable. He was talking with a friend and this friend kept telling Rob that he didn't have to live like this. He didn't have to work to get ahead. He didn't have to climb the ladder of success or have this big-time career. Rob tried to defend himself, but his friend kept saying over and over 'you don't have to live like this.' Eventually it dawned on Rob--he didn't have to live like this. Our fallen selves have made gods out of our careers, money, the approval of others, success and anything else we sacrifice everything for. We scoff and wonder how in the world people could ever believe in Zeus or Aphrodite or any of those gods, yet we do the same thing. We work for these invisible 'forces' that say we have to get ahead, we have to make money, we have to do, do, do. We can't stop. We've done more than make idols out of these things, we've made them our gods and we worship them and the false sense of security and happiness they bring.

Final thoughts: I remember in high school learning about the different types of ways to approach research for writing papers. You could read a story/poem/book and research it by focusing on different aspects of the story and its creation. My favorite way of researching things was by looking at the author's personal history and the current events/culture of the world when the author wrote it. What we write is directly related to our world and what's going on at the moment. One of the most blatant examples is the poetry that came out of World War I. For years beforehand, poetry about war made the whole thing seem romantic and pure, but the poetry written by soldiers in WWI revealed just how horrible war is. Their poetry was directly influenced by their world and their biography. All of this is to say that I appreciate how Rob looks at history to see how it shaped the stories in the Bible. I read one blog where the writer said Rob believes that the story of the Good Samaritan is supposed to be about the prejudice of the audience Christ was preaching to. Interesting.

During one of the stories Rob told, he retold a story that Brennan Manning has used about a woman who claimed to be hearing God's audible voice and had been having conversations with Him. A priest, who was upset about her claim, talked to her and said that the next time she 'talked' to God, she should ask Him what sins the priest last confessed. After her next conversation with God, the priest came and asked her what God had said. She said He simply stated "I don't remember." I understand the sentiment of this story and the belief that God forgets our sin once it is confessed, but I don't know if I agree that God forgets our sin. He's omniscient, isn't He? I believe part of being omniscient is knowing the past, present and future, including sin. And doesn't a God as powerful as the true God have the ability to really and truly forgive without forgetting? And doesn't it make Him all the more amazing that He knows our past mistakes but still loves us?

I've always struggled with taking the intellectual concept that God loves me and making it real and feeling like God not only loves me out of obligation, but because He wants to love me. It's not just a "I'll take care of you and make sure you have food to eat" love, but a deep and emotional love, a love that wants me to be content and happy in Him. He knows the desires of my heart and has a plan for me. He's more like Aslan and less like the distant God we often have in our minds. He is my heavenly father, not my earthly father and does not have the flaws of my earthly father or any other human I know. Hearing Rob speak about this love and lack of anger toward me was refreshing and eye-opening. It's hard to take the things I know about God in my head, and make them real to me in my heart.

These three entries on what Rob Bell spoke about don't do him justice. He's an amazing orator with the ability to take profound truths and stories and messages and make them completely accessible, without dumbing them down. I know a lot of people have issues with some of his teachings and views, but I've never heard him say anything that is harmful to the absolute truth that we must come to faith in Christ alone and that it is by grace alone this happens. He doesn't advocate the crap that is 'prosperity gospel' and actually rails against it. He lives and breathes God's command to love your neighbor and spread His Word. He loves people and wants to see them come to faith in Christ. I certainly can't fault him for that.

November 27, 2007

On the angry gods: Part 2

There was a longer break in between the last post and this post. Sorry. That's what happens when you have a four day weekend and a pile of work. Moving on to the next section.

When we last left Abraham, God had just asked him to sacrifice his son--the one he had been waiting years to have. But then God stopped Abraham just in time and provided a ram for the sacrifice. Rob pointed out that most people interpret this passage as a test for Abraham. God was testing Abraham's willingness to follow God and obey God. It's as though God was testing to make sure Abraham was worthy of being the father of His nation. Rob presents the idea that this view of the story is wrong. God was showing just the opposite of what many people would first think about this. God was showing Abraham (and the future generations who would hear this story or read this story) that He is not like the other gods--He doesn't ask us to do barbaric things like sacrifice our own children (or any human for that matter). What an amazing and freeing concept! To go from angry, distant gods who were never happy for long--to a God who spoke to you and desired a relationship. This is a God who provides (the ram).

This interpretation makes more sense when you keep in mind what the world was like when this story first occurred and when it was being told and re-told years later. I think Christians often forget that the Bible was taking place in the middle of the same history we learn about in school. This story was taking place during the time when people believed all those crazy gods actually existed. So try to imagine what others thought of Abraham and his story and compare it to what they most likely believed. Our interpretation of the story is tainted by our world and what we live in now--a time when we aren't expected to sacrifice our own family or possessions or careers because we live in a 'me first' world. How dare God ask Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son? But if we lived in a world where our gods demanded we sacrifice constantly for them and it was the common occurrence, then what would it be like to hear about a God who didn't demand constant and unreasonable sacrifice and always provided for the sacrifice we did make?

As anyone who has attempted to read the Old Testament has found, God gave the Jews a lot of laws. A lot of them. But even these laws were different because you knew exactly where you stood with God. You knew how much sacrifice to make and when to make them. If you followed these laws, you and God were on good terms. If you didn't follow them, well...just read what happened to the Israelites. Fun stuff.

Rob also pointed out that there were five sacrifices required of the Israelites and they each had a different purpose. I couldn't write as fast as he spoke, so I looked them up. In the first chapters of Leviticus we learn about the five types of sacrifices:

1. The Burnt Offering: The only sacrifice where the whole animal is burnt. The animal must be male and without defect. This sacrifice showed their devotion to God.
2. The Grain Offering: An unbloody sacrifice of grain, flour or cakes. Part was burnt and part was eaten by the priests.
3. The Fellowship Offering: A male or female herd animal was sacrificed. Part was burnt and part was eaten by the priests. This sacrifice showed fellowship or peace with God.
4. The Sin Offering:
A bull, goat, sheep, dove or flour could be offered. This sacrifice was made on special occasions such as the Day of Atonement. Part of the animals were burnt and part eaten by the priests. The Sin Offering signified a restoring of the covenant relationship with God.
5. The Guilt Offering:
A ram was sacrificed. Part was burnt and part eaten by priests. This sacrifice was offered for specific sins.

Sounds pretty involved, right? And that doesn't even go into all the detail. But remember that this way of life offered them something they never had before: A clear and consistent standard to live by so they knew exactly where they stood with God. No guessing games. And any parenting book will tell you that people crave discipline and structure and rules. They want to know what they have to do to earn the love and devotion of others, including God. They want a three-step process or 40 days to solve a problem. We love rules and regulations. We love to do things by ourselves (especially Americans love independence and not having to work in groups).

But then God did something even more radical and amazing and freeing: He moved on to phase 2 and sent His son, Jesus.

November 21, 2007

On the angry gods: Part 1

I started writing a post yesterday but just haven't been feeling it. Then tonight I went to hear Rob Bell speak as part of his tour, The gods Aren't Angry. I made the last-minute decision to go earlier this week after reading a couple of interviews and reviews of Rob Bell. I've seen a few of his Nooma videos and I'm always amazed at his ability to explain things in such simple and profound ways. I could have listened to him speak for another five hours tonight, but then my brain would have overloaded and I'd have passed out and missed Thanksgiving.

If you are able to attend of one his 'lectures,' I'd highly recommend it. Go buy tickets. Now. But since many of you (all four of you who read this blog) probably won't be in any of the cities left on the tour, and because I like to explain and regurgitate things I've heard or read, I'm going to give you the gist of what he said. And I'll probably add some of my own thoughts. I'll probably break it up into two or three sections because I highly doubt many people would have the patience to read a blog post that is the approximate size of the Constitution of the United States.

So sit back, relax, grab a drink, put on some good music...and let's go over what I just heard tonight. It's good stuff:

Rob (I'm going to drop the last name for the sake of saving four keystrokes) began by telling the story of how man-made religions were born: Thousands of years ago, people began noticing how all things were connected. The plant grew based on the sun and rain and since the people depended on this plant for survival, they began to give importance to sun and rain. Then they noticed how almost everything in their life is connected to some force or pattern. So they began giving these 'forces' names and identities. These identities had human characteristics--anger, selfishness, pettiness.

So man and woman tried to appease these moody gods and goddesses. If the crop was good, they'd give them part of the harvest to thank them. If the crop was even better the next year, they'd give them even more of the harvest. But if the harvest was bad, they'd have to give even more to make the gods happy. It was all about giving and giving and giving some more. You never knew if you were doing the right thing or making the right sacrifice because these gods were distant and never made contact with humans. So you just kept making sacrifices and giving to these distant gods, hoping you were doing the right thing.

An important note: The Bible never took place outside of history. The stories of the Old Testament were present and happening during all of this.

Then comes Abraham. Suddenly, one of the gods--the true God--steps down and talks directly to a human. God tells Abraham to leave his father's house--the house where good ol' Abe had learned about the other gods and goddesses--and follow Him. So Abraham does. Then things get really interesting. Keep in mind that Abraham is living during a time where people sacrifice anything and everything, including their first-born child, to appease the distant gods.

God has promised Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. When he finally has a son, God does the unfathomable and asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Any reasonable, 21st century parent would have said no or fought God or attempted to refuse Him. But Abraham didn't. Why? Because this was not an unreasonable request in that day and age. All the false gods of the time, the gods Abraham's father taught him about, asked for the same sort of sacrifice. If not specifically for their child, then for constant sacrifices of other kinds. But as Abraham is raising the knife to sacrifice Isaac, God stops him. He says you don't have to sacrifice your child for me.

Further proof that this 'new' God is not like the other gods. Our God talks to us. Our God longs to have communion and a relationship with us. Our God is not angry.

November 16, 2007

On Life Insurance Ads

I was reading an article online and as I scrolled down I ran into one of those ads that sits right in the middle of an article. This particular ad was for life insurance and struck me as somewhat humorous. The picture that was used looked as though it was taken straight from a very special Lifetime movie, starring someone whose name sounds vaguely that the girl from Family Ties? No, I think it's the girl from The Torkelsons...

Coming soon to Lifetime: The Stepmom: The story of how one little boy took back what was his from a woman you know is evil because she wore red lipstick to the funeral. With a very special appearance from the girl in Mystic Pizza (No, not Julia Roberts. No, not the one who gets married...the other one.)

When little Timmy's father remarried just a few short months after the tragic death of Timmy's mother, rumors flew about the mysterious woman with the bright red lipstick. When Timmy's father died only four months later and left everything to his new wife, little Timmy decided to take matters into his own hands and get to the bottom of his stepmother's sordid affairs. The community rallied around this little boy with a mop of dark brown hair, and helped put the pieces of his shattered life back together. Premiering December 2, with an encore presentation December 3, 5, 6, 7, 15, 21 and a special Christmas Day presentation with limited commercial interruptions.

November 13, 2007

On Feeding Others

My office mate just showed me another way to kill time at work (in three-minute increments only!). I can take a break from work, all while feeding others and improving my vocabulary.

Go to and all you have to do is choose which definition of the given word is correct. With every correct guess, 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations. Not only will you improve your vocabulary, but you'll be helping others. Guessing from the different corporate logos that appear on the bottom of the page, this thing has a lot of big-name sponsors.

And if you're like 99% of all people and wish you could get rid of the excess junk mail you receive, there is a way to help. You know the National Do-Not-Call List? Yeah, there's a Do-Not-Mail List that is maintained by the very people who make the junk mail. Their reasoning is that it will save them money to only send junk mail to people who actually want it. So go here and sign up!

November 8, 2007

On Dating Trends

I just read an article from (holy schnikies I love that site) about some research the author did on dating preferences. No one will be surprised to learn that men prize beauty highest and are turned off by women who they perceive to be smarter or more ambitious than themselves. Women, of course, prize intellect and ambition much higher than beauty. Also, women are much more discriminant about race than men. Men will date any race (as long as she's pretty), but white women most often prefer white men. Black women prefer black men, and so on.

"When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better. So, yes, the stereotypes appear to be true: We males are a gender of fragile egos in search of a pretty face and are threatened by brains or success that exceeds our own. Women, on the other hand, care more about how men think and perform, and they don't mind being outdone on those scores."

So what does all of this mean for me, personally? I'll have to continue searching for a man whose face doesn't blanch, palms get sweaty and he mentally moves me from the "datable" list to the "friends only" list whenever he meets a woman who shows even the slightest amount of intellect or thirst for knowledge. Does that sound arrogant? Perhaps, but I don't score high on the beauty scale, so it all evens out. I mean, it usually evens out in the movies and they couldn't make movies about stuff that's not realistic, right? Right?

November 1, 2007

On Siamese Twins?

Maybe I shouldn't laugh at this, but let me say I'm not laughing at the twins, I'm laughing at the fact that Mt. Airy lists this under their top ten reasons to visit their town.

See here.

The Siamese Twins (aren't they supposed to be called conjoined twins?) are number nine in their top ten reasons to visit Mt. Airy (the town that Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show was modeled after). They came in above cycling. When I saw that they had made the list, I'll admit I laughed out loud. I'm still giggling to myself as I type this.

My question is: what is special about these particular conjoined twins? Why is there a deal made about these guys? Maybe it's because they both got married and together had 21 kids. TWENTY-ONE kids! Let's pause for a moment to think about that...

Okay, stop thinking about it because it might gross you out to think about how that's possible.

God bless America and its quirky small towns. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go add a trip to the grave site of the Siamese twins to my trip itinerary.

October 31, 2007

On Football Scores

You have to wonder if at some point, the losing team just wanted to quit. Go back to their locker room, lay down and take a nap. And at some point, shouldn't the winning team decide to stop humiliating them and take a knee?

Kansas team scores 72 in first quarter; wins 86-0

On Showing Anger

The vast majority of Christians would say that anger is an emotion to be avoided and when it makes its way out of the recesses of your mind, it should be squelched or confessed. There are dozens of verses that contain the word 'anger' (go to and type in 'anger.' Not only will you see how many verses there are, but you'll also see why some people avoid the Old Testament. God was not very happy in a lot of those books...but after you see that, go look at Psalm 145:8).

Most of the verses contain warnings about anger and its dangers (Proverbs 15:1, 22:24, 29:8, 30:33, Ecclesiastes 7:9 and more). So we've established through these verses and more verses like them that unchecked and unrighteous anger is wrong and should be avoided. But what if this anger is replaced by something just as damaging and just as frustrating to those who are its object?

I'm talking about passive aggressive behavior. The term 'passive aggressive' was first used during World War II by the military. In the beginning it was seen as a mental disorder that afflicted soldiers who wouldn't follow orders or avoided their duties. Most of the time when I hear people using it, (and in the way I'm using it here) it means that someone is not direct about their emotions (most commonly anger) and uses roundabout ways to express it. They bottle it up inside and use other ways to show their ire.

When did this become the norm for Christians? For people in general? When was honest confrontation replaced by avoidance? We are called to honesty and yet we are rarely honest about what is bothering us or what has made us upset. So instead, we bottle it up for months and make mental lists of all the ways we've been insulted or victimized or annoyed and we lie in wait. We wait for the perfect moment to unleash that pent-up frustration. Most often, this anger comes out in a burst, but sometimes it's in a manipulative, non-confrontational manner. Because Christians also hate confrontation. It's as though we've been brainwashed to believe that any sort of confrontation is wrong and we should never have these feelings so we should never let anyone know we have them. And yet we do have these emotions and instead of truly forgetting or forgiving, we just use them later.

My thoughts feel jumbled and I'm having a hard time explaining what I mean. The bottom line is that we all become angry and bottling it up without taking care of it or being indirect about it is just as wrong and just as harmful as letting it out. There is also such a thing as righteous anger. We are allowed to be angry when the anger isn't about pride (to put it very simply). Expressing anger by making snide remarks or sending passive aggressive emails or talking about your anger to someone else (but not to the person who made you angry) is wrong and is a cop-out. It's the easy way out for people who don't have the guts or the common decency or the integrity to be honest with someone. It can destroy a person and it can destroy a relationship.

It's high time we got over our pride and our self-righteous indignation and fessed up to our emotions.

October 24, 2007

On Global Warming

As the wildfires in California rage and the drought in the Southeast remains, the media is taking this opportunity to roll out their global warming specials and their experts and anything else related to the environment. I have no idea whether global warming is real or if the earth is just going through another cycle of heating up before it cools back down. I've heard both sides of the story (although not the whole story, I'm sure) and they both make sense. Although there has been movement by some conservatives, the majority still believe global warming is a myth. Why should we inconvenience ourselves and stop driving SUVs? Those big businesses who make so much pollution are in my pocket, so why should I stop them? This is my question: Even if global warming is a myth, something propagated by liberals to distract you while they hand out free condoms in high schools and raise your taxes, why are you so adamantly against helping or cleaning the environment? What is so bad about being responsible about the environment and looking for new, cleaner fuel? Who, exactly, will lose by taking care of the earth?

Many Christians (a group I count myself a part of) have gotten on the global warming bandwagon, but even more still say it's a myth. So for those who rail against Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio and CNN and all the other democrats and liberals and left-wing treehuggers, I must again ask: why? As God's greatest creation, as the 'rulers' of this earth, aren't we supposed to take care of it? God created the earth and told Adam to name the animals. God made Adam the caretaker of Eden and, by extension, the whole earth. Some people may say this means we can do whatever we want--humans come first, then the animals and trees.

But haven't we already proven that not taking care of the flora and fauna is not good for anyone? Mercury levels are too high in the ocean, species of animals are becoming endangered or extinct, the square footage of the earth taken up by shopping malls will soon be more than the square footage taken up by trees (okay--that's an exaggeration, but you get my point). And yet we carry on, letting man-made monstrosities take the place of God's own creation. We'd rather see manufacturing plants and malls and houses that are too big for one family take the place of trees and animals and clean air. And don't even get me started on SUVs (How many people actually use them as sport utility vehicles?).

Whether or not global warming is a real threat is, to me, irrelevant. You don't clean your house just when mold spores become a threat to the health of your family--you clean your house so it never has the chance of becoming a threat. So before global warming (or any sort of environmental disaster) becomes a threat (or more of a threat), why don't we take care of the earth?

October 18, 2007

On the Craziness of the World

Oh my.

A middle school in Portland, Maine is now giving students birth control pills. No, not a high school. A middle school. Sixth-eighth graders.

Let's pause a moment to let that sink in.

Really, people? And their reasoning is that some students may not feel comfortable going to their parents to talk about it? Do you think maybe they feel uncomfortable about it because they're 11? And instead of talking about sex, they should be talking about Zach Efron and how dreamy he was in High School Musical? Listen, I know children mature faster now and most middle schoolers probably know more about sex than I do, but I don't think that's even the issue.

The issue to me seems to be that schools and the government are once again letting parents off the hook. I don't care if it's uncomfortable for parents to talk to their kids about the birds and the bees. I don't care if it makes them blush and if their kids roll their eyes--it's their job. The moment you decided to have children or the moment the pregnancy test said positive and you decided to rear a child, you did more than say yes to having someone else live in your house. The moment you had children, you decided to take on the responsibilities of parenting. That means taking care of their primary needs (food, clothing, shelter) as well as teaching them about the world and about people and about themselves. If you are too scared or embarrassed to do this, don't have children. Parenting does not give you license to pick and choose which issues you want to deal with--if you want to raise a child, then you deal with all the issues, even sex and birth control.

I also have issues with the people who voted against it because it's against their religion and against God. First of all, the real issue is more than sex and birth control, as stated in my rant above. Second, it doesn't matter if it's against religion because the government is separate from religion or any belief system. It's not the job of the government to uphold religious beliefs. In fact, it's their job to do the very opposite. It's their job to stay out of religion. Stop trying to find your savior on Capitol Hill (or your town hall, or state legislature or any other form of man-made government). Yes, giving 11-year-olds is not exactly in line with most religions or with Christianity, but since when are we supposed to expect non-Christians to act and believe the same things as Christians?

Christians (myself included) believe that all people are fallen and imperfect and can only be made whole by Christ. Let me repeat that: Only be made whole by Christ. Not by the government and its laws. So please stop trying to use earthly and man-made laws to make people act like Christians. It doesn't work.

October 17, 2007

On Generation Y

An article in Newsweek delves back into the issue of 'twixters,' something that was brought up around my senior year in college. They never actually use the word twixter, but the concept is the same: twentysomethings are taking forever to 'settle down' and are using their twenties as a time to find their life passions (often living with their parents and/or flitting from job to job).

It's obvious to just about everyone that my generation is unlike previous generations in many ways. We don't get married during or right after college. We don't find a job and stick with it for the next 50 years. If we don't like our boss, rather than go home and sit in front of the TV and zone everything out in an attempt to forget about our craptastic job, we quit. Why suffer with an ingratiating boss when we're still young and can get out of it?

But then there's responsibility. And narcissism and selfishness. Why should our parents foot the bill when we are able to take care of ourselves? At what point do we say 'enough is enough' and stop relying on mom and dad to finance the search for our 'life calling.' At what point do our parents say 'enough is enough' and stop footing the bill? (According to the article, the stopping point for many parents is age 30).

Another feature of a twixter or the Generation Y is that we often care less about money and more about having a fulfilling life. In other words, we'll work for less pay if we love what we're doing. I wonder if that's true or just one of those things people say when they're answering a poll, but don't really believe. I have no proof to back up my skepticism other than the obvious love for high-priced gadgets, cars and hipster clothing I see so many twentysomethings wear. Maybe their parents are also footing that bill.

Experts (and the article's author) say much of the blame rests on the shoulders of the parents. Apparently, parents have instilled in their children the belief that they can do anything they want, no matter the cost or skill involved. This paired with the fact that we've never had to work for anything or earn anything (or at least not to the extent of prior generations) is a deadly mix (I wonder how much of an impact a lack of having to do chores when growing up has an effect--it seems like kids no longer have to do chores). So these young and naive kids go out into the world expecting to get what they want without working for it. Eventually they'll stumble upon the perfect job that lets them do something they love during work, pays them enough money, and still allows them to have a fulfilling life outside of work.

This is all totally possible, I believe. You can have that perfect job, a family, passions outside of work and a fulfilling life. But it may not happen by the time you're 25. You may have to work for it and even put in more than 40 hours a week. You may have to have a job that just pays the bills and then work on fulfilling your dreams during your own time. It's time for my generation to get over its narcissism and stop letting their parents foot the bill.

But I'm reminded that even if I had the perfect job (owned a bookstore and wrote children's novels), in the perfect town (a smallish mountain town), with the perfect house (an old cottage), and even had a dog to go with it all--I still wouldn't be fulfilled. Things and places and even people will never fulfill me. I will never be satisfied with what the world has to offer because the world is fallible and imperfect just like me. I still have a void that can only be filled by Him--by my Lord and Savior. It may seem silly or maybe naive, but I look at the world around me and see different. I look at Britney Spears, Paris Hilton or even less ridiculous celebrities and see that they're looking for the world to fill their void. I look at people I come in contact with all the time--not celebrities--and see them searching for meaning in their life. Yet, nothing seems to be working. How can we expect an imperfect world to fulfill us? It will always let us down. We'll always let others down. Yet Christ has never let me down. Even when I don't understand right away, He's never broken His word or promises.

Now that's something to write home about. You know...once I move out of my parent's basement and find the perfect job.

October 16, 2007

On Links and Stories

I'm addicted to blogs (personal blogs and just random or 'artsy' blogs) and reading the news. So here are a few things you and everyone you know should read or at least peruse:

What people put on the front of their fridge is a good indication of what they find important or what type of personality they have. On this website, people from all over the world show you what's inside their fridge. You might think it's weird, but it's also pretty flippin' interesting.

American Lawbreaking
This is an article on laws in the U.S. that are on the books but never enforced. It's actually a series of articles, so it's pretty long. Slate (the online magazine where the article is located) has a lot of really great and thought-provoking articles. This article gives you a lot to think about, including the use of prescription drugs. Okay, I admit it. I'm a nerd.

This website/blog is for all the creators/imaginators/artists out there. I love it, I love it, I love it. The sight's creator/author finds amazing artists and designers and tells you where to get their goods. It's just been redesigned with some new features. Go there and have ridiculous amounts of fun drooling at the beautiful and well-designed wares.

Burnside Writers Collective
Here is another online magazine started by Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame) and his friends. Each Monday they have new articles on everything from sports to social justice. The articles are usually well-written and thought-provoking and leave you wishing they published more than just on Mondays. They have an editors blog that is updated on a daily-ish basis as well.

Still Searching
This is Brett McCracken's blog. Who is Brett McCracken, you ask? He's a grad student in L.A. who writes movie reviews for several publications, including Relevant Magazine. His blog showcases his writing prowess and very often has thought-provoking material. I'm a fan. I'd also like to know what he thought of the movie The Squid and the Whale.

Paste Magazine
I love music and I love magazines. So a great magazine dedicated to music? Perfect. This magazine furthers its awesome quotient by not being self-important and acting like they have a stick up their butt, unlike the completely overrated Rolling Stone. There! I said it! Rolling Stone (and Entertainment Weekly and just about every other mainstream media publication) is overrated and so full of themselves, that they've become blinded to quality entertainment/music/film. Paste, however, is breathing fresh, pure, mountain-like air into the industry of music news and reviews. Thank goodness.

I don't think I even completely understand the point or layout or whatever of this site, which is part of the appeal. But entries like this make me come back wanting more.

One of these days I'll get back to talking about my opinions on current events/world affairs/everything else or maybe I'll even have an interesting story to tell.

October 8, 2007

On Football

I love the changing seasons, especially the change from winter to spring and from summer to fall. New smells fill the air, the sky is vivid blue and nostalgia becomes the order of the day.

Fall seems to bring about the most feelings of nostalgia for me. Although the leaves and flowers are dying, my life seems to have a feeling of renewal. Perhaps it's because for so much of my life, the beginning of fall signaled the beginning of a new school year. A chance to go back to school and see how people have changed and let them see how I've changed. A new opportunity to define myself.

Fall is also the beginning of football season. Ahhh, football, how I love thee. I could wax poetic about football all day. Although I hail from North Carolina, I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. I remember the first Super Bowl I ever watched for the game rather than the commercials. The Packers were playing and I remember watching the fans and thinking that they just seemed like fun. They had cheese on their head! They seemed like they were a friendly bunch and were enjoying the game in a childish and pure fashion. It's as though they couldn't believe they had the fortune to be able to watch grown men run up and around a field chasing after a ball. So when I was 16 and decided to learn about football, it only made sense to pull for the Packers. I also like the fact that the team is owned by the people of Green Bay, and not one person alone. It truly is a family affair for Green Bay and Wisconsin. The waiting list for season tickets is more than 30 years long. Tickets are left to family members in wills and a child's name is added to the waiting list when they're born. You want to see dedication? That's dedication.

I've tried to get into basketball and baseball, but they just don't thrill me like football. I've only seen a couple of high school football games in person, but I can watch a game on TV for hours. Yet, baseball and basketball are only fun at the game. I appreciate them, especially the history of baseball and the mystique of America's pastime, but they're just too mundane--the same thing over and over.

But football. No game is ever the same. What play are they going to use? Who will the QB throw to? Everyone gets their chance at glory and every player is absolutely essential. You aren't focusing on just one player trying to hit the ball, or watching players run up and down the court. No, a basketball court cannot contain football. They need 100 yards of pure, green grass (or turf). They need pads and helmets because they aren't satisfied just to stand in front of the other team. No, they need to tackle. They need to pummel. They need to run and block and throw their entire body in the way of the ball. Glorious, glorious football.

The Packers are 4 and 1. The Patriots, Cowboys and Colts are 5 and 0. Am I the only one who's tired of seeing the Patriots win? But it's all good. Because in football, you never know how the game will end (Michigan and Appalachian State--case in point). I'm sure I could make some profound illustration about life and football. But for now, I'll just leave it where it is. Sometimes things are just meant to be enjoyed. And football is one of those things.

October 6, 2007

I Heart Jim (and Jack and House and Kenneth...)

Let's make this post a happy one since the last post was a little--how shall I say it--grumpy?

I'm a TV junky. I try to justify myself by saying I only watch TV shows I really enjoy, but I like a lot of TV shows, so I think I'd be considered a TV junky. I'm okay with it for the most part, but mainly because I have DVR (Oh sweet digital video recorder--how did I live without you all those years?), so if a show is coming on while something else is happening (i.e. something involving real, live people), I can just hit a few buttons and voila--I am no longer bound to the television. Oh sweet freedom.

But I just love stories. I love learning about other people's lives (also why I love blogs), so I love reading about them in books or watching them on TV or in movies. I love making up my own stories about people I see on the street or in stores. I just love stories!

This TV season seems to have a fair amount of good new shows, but then an even larger amount of bad shows. Case in point: Cavemen. Here's my question about this show: Other than how they look, how are these cavemen different from us? They live in the city, they drink skim lattes or whatever they're called and they hold real jobs. The speak English, they wear trendy clothes--so how are they supposed to be different? What is the point of this show?

But then there's the return of favorites as well (LOST is only five-ish months away! Oh how I miss you, Jack.). So here's the breakdown of shows with which I fill my evenings (or whenever I get around to watching them):

-The Office: Huh-larious. How many of us can totally relate and think of people who are exactly like these characters?
-30 Rock: Tina Fey is my role model for life.
-LOST: Coming back in February! So much to wait for!
-Ugly Betty: This show is also hilarious and bright and cheery and full of harmless drama. So good.
-House, M.D.: Oh that crazy grumpy, drug addict. He's so mean but brilliant.

Some new shows I'm going to try:
-Aliens in America: the first episode was cute
-Pushing Daisies: I haven't watched the first episode yet (I might do it while I eat my Apple Jacks (yay for sugary kid's cereal)). But the show looks amazing--the color! the concept! Kristen Chenowith!

You might (maybe? a little?) be thinking, 'Oh, that's not too don't even have something for every night.' Which is true. But did I mention that if I'm considered a TV junky, then the only way to describe how I feel about movies is to call me a Certifiable, Unrelenting Movie Addict? Thank goodness for Netflix.

October 3, 2007

Crappy days and how not to be a crappy writer

I am finding that there are definite degrees of crappy days. Some crappy days can be cured by a piece of dark chocolate. Some need more fixing and require a long, hard laugh with a good friend. Others require a good drink such as an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper--add alcohol when necessary.

Today was the type of crappy day in which I really wished I had a gargantuan pumpkin to throw off a tall building. I'd throw it off and watch it splatter on the pavement and take great delight in its destruction. Should I be worried that this is one of the first things that came to mind when I wanted to work off my anger?

However, almost all crappy days can be helped with good music. So here is a list of songs that help me endure a crappy, craptastic day:

1. Oh Happy Day (from Sister Act 2)
Seriously, how can you not be happy as you sing along and cheer for them as they go from a bad choir to an amazing gospel sensation (!!).
2. Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn and John)
Ummm...there's whistling. 'Nuff said.
3. The West Wing theme song
I can't listen to this song without feeling like I can change the world, while walking fast through strategically lighted hallways and being witty at the same time.
4. Hallelujah (the Jeff Buckley version and ONLY the Jeff Buckley version)
This isn't really a happy song, but it's an amazing song. So amazing, in fact, that you can't help but be happy that such a song exists.
5. The Luckiest (Ben Folds)
When such sappy love exists, you have to be a little happy, at least.
6. Fidelity (Regina Spektor)
If I had a voice like Regina, I'd never stop singing.
7. Anything by Nickel Creek or Alison Krauss
Bluegrass has the ability to make me happy, no matter the subject of the song. The banjo! The fiddle! The mandolin! The guitar picking! All happy things. Add the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack to that list as well.

There are more songs that make me happy, but that's all for now. Let's move on to the list of things that annoy me (the editor part of me) and will instantly make you a better writer if you never, ever do them again.

1. Just Because You Capitalize It Doesn't Mean It's A Proper Noun. Seriously, stop with the excessive capitalizing.
2. Beginning a story, formal paper, announcement or just about anything else with a question is not creative or unique--it's lazy. Lazy, lazy, lazy. And stupid to boot.
3. When differentiating between a.m. and p.m., there is a reason there are periods in between the letters. They are acronyms and each letter stands for a different word. Take one extra second and type the flipping periods.
4. When beginning a new sentence, there only needs to be one space between the period and the new word. Your middle school typing teacher was wrong. Only one space, forever and ever amen.

That's all for now. Enough complaining. I'll leave you with a happy image: I saw a beagle puppy sticking its head out the car window today. Anyone who would like to give me a corgi puppy is free to do so.

September 28, 2007

Find out what it means to me

My generation and the generations before and after have issues with respect. I'm sure every generation has them, but I guess ours seems different because we have these issues with everyone--not just our parents or teachers. How often do we hear people say that kids these days don't respect their elders or their grandparents or don't say yes ma'am or no sir...pretty darn often.

Here's my question(s): What are we basing this respect on? Who gets respect and who doesn't? What exactly is the difference between respect and having no sense of humor or personality? It's my humble opinion that all people, regardless of age, position, gender or anything else, deserve the same amount of respect. Granted, this does not mean you treat everyone exactly the same. For example, I would never greet my grandfather in the same way I greet my friends. This isn't because I respect one more than the other. It's because my relationship with my grandfather is drastically different than my relationship with my friend. My friends know me and my sense of humor, whereas my grandfather would think I'd gone insane if I treated him like my close friends. In other words--they're different people with different personalities and therefore react different to situations and people.

I'd say I give people the proper amount of respect...most of the time. Unless they are half-witted bosses who leave their employees to clean up their messes. ::Disclaimer-this is not my current boss. Thank goodness:: This is my own personal fault and rebellious nature and (as my mother has put it over the years) attitude problem. But for the most part, I treat everyone with respect. I don't treat them the same, as I explained above, but I treat them with respect. So here's my problem: why are we expected to give some people more respect than others? When I'm told to show an extra measure of respect to someone, I often think that the word respect is being used incorrectly. It's as though they're using respect when they should be saying "be overly serious" or "be a suck-up" or "be a sycophant." None of this has anything to do with respect--it has to do with ego. Boost their ego and maybe that person will condescend to your level and give you what you want. Treat them like royalty so you'll make them and make yourself look better.

So I have a hard time showing an "extra level" of respect simply because they're older than me or they're a man or they have a master's degree. I'd rather show them the same amount of respect every other person deserves and not suck up to them. I'll do my job and let them do their job. I'll be friendly to them and keep my mouth shut when the situation calls for it. I'll feel them out to find out if they have a sense of humor or not. But I will not be overly serious or grovel for their approval just for the sake of being seen in a false light of respect.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:8-9

September 25, 2007

Putting it off no more

I'm all moved into the new place. We still need a couch, but you'd be amazed by the difference not having a couch makes in the amount of time spent watching television. I think this also has to do with the fact that there's another person in the house to talk to, rather than being alone and filling the quiet with television. I still like having something in the background to fill the silence in the morning, and nothing fills that silence quite like Josh Lyman, Sam Seaborn and President Bartlett. Yes, I'm referencing the greatest show ever: The West Wing.

I feel like such an adult now. I have rent to pay, a car payment and all other manner of bills. When I was a kid, this was not what I imagined would bring about the feeling that I'm an adult. Shouldn't it be something more fun? Like the choice to skip work and fly to California at a moment's notice? So this message is for kids: Don't desire growing up too fast. Take advantage of the freedom and lack of responsibility you have. And as long as I'm talking to you--kids, don't play with Bratz dolls. They're ridiculous.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I have the tendency to put things off and blame it on my circumstances. I blame my lack of motivation on my circumstances or on my surroundings. For example, I tell myself that I'll be more disciplined and spend more time painting or sewing once I have the perfect equipment or I'm feeling more motivated. Yet, I have supplies and ideas, but I still don't do it. So I've told myself that once I had a 'real' house and had more room, I'd take advantage of it and really invest time into my creative pursuits. I'd sew more, paint more and begin writing a children's book. Yet I say this every time I move or get a new job or anything like that. So what am I waiting for? I'm obviously just making excuses to be lazy. But no more! No more excuses. If my dream is to write books and own a bookstore and see my name in print at Barnes and Noble, then I should stop procrastinating and waiting for the perfect circumstance or the perfect idea or the perfect anything. I should just do it! So I will and the three people who might read this blog are my witnesses. I should stop daydreaming and just do it.

September 20, 2007

Thoughts on relevance and a cute picture

Read this article first.

How true, how true are the words of this article. Even Christians have the desire to be thought of as cool or hip. We ache for the world to look at Christianity and see that it's not just a bunch of fundamentalists who are opposed to women cutting their hair or opposed to listening to good ol' rock 'n roll. Too often, though, we lose the depth of Christianity and it becomes this cotton candy, surface "religion" that is more worried about looking good than being good or in making a difference in our own life and in those around us. When this is the case, is 'cool Christianity' any better than Joel Osteen's 'prosperity Christianity'?

I think we should also point out the fact that just because a Christian doesn't shop at Urban Outfitters or listen to Sufjan Stevens or know who Bansky is--it doesn't mean they aren't a Christian making a difference for the Kingdom. It's foolish for us to think that the way we look has anything to do with whether a person comes to know Christ. It has nothing to do with what we can do or say--it's about what Christ is doing in their heart and life. Yes, we still need to strive for excellence and for love and righteousness. But even if we're the 'perfect little Christian,' if God isn't with us, then it's meaningless.

There seems to be a big push by a lot of Christians (including myself) to show that Christianity is still relevant 2,000 years after its beginning. For many, this means having a well-designed website or letterhead or listening to/playing "good" music that is original and new. But what about people who just don't like the things that are considered aesthetically pleasing or up-to-date? Are they any less Christian or being used by God any less? If they love the Lord (with all their heart, soul and mind) and they love their neighbors as themselves, who are we to judge their "bad taste"? Yes, it would be wonderful if every church stopped using papyrus font and hired professional designers and updated their websites to get rid of their flash intros (who actually looks at those?). But God never said he would only use those people who have good taste, so why should we? There is a market out there for everybody. There are churches for the postmodern artist who wears nothing but black and red. There are churches for women who haven't changed their hair since the 80s. And there are churches for people who think papyrus font is the greatest font since Times New Roman. God loves us all, good taste or not.

And for those who are concerned with the world thinking that churches haven't changed since the 1850s--is that what we really want to be known for? Do we really want to be known for having great websites and cool youth t-shirts and great music? Or do we want to be known for giving everything of ourselves to others and for helping out the widows and orphans and showing God's love by our actions? Should we change the perception that we don't care or love
others (or that we all agree with Pat Robertson) before we worry so much about changing how we look?

Now after you've thought all of this over, go here and see the cutest picture ever.

September 16, 2007

Living on a balance beam

I love weddings. Several reasons come to mind--some of them come from my hopeless romantic heart that likes to see two people make a commitment to love each other for their whole life. Whereas others just come from my desire to plan a wedding. That doesn't mean I'm itching to get married, I just want to plan a wedding and use all the ideas I've seen and loved over the years. I'm a Martha-Stewart-loving kind of girl, so I look forward to planning a wedding someday and using all the ideas I've been storing up in my memory. I'm also competitive when it comes to domestic stuff, so I just want to prove that my wedding will be the best. Sorry, female friends out there, but it's true. You are my competition. Love ya!

I went to a wedding Saturday (the next to last of several during this wedding season) of a college friend. The fact that weddings often turn into mini reunions is another bonus. But as I sat at the reception, many thoughts went through my mind about how much you can learn about people at weddings. I'm a firm believer that small things about a person's personality often reveal larger truths about them. For example, the fact that someone refuses to dance at a wedding reveals a larger truth about their overall personality. Or if someone is willing to get up in front of everyone and dance like a fool just to get others involved or make them smile, that also reveals a great deal about that person.

I enjoy dancing, but not so much when I feel like there's potential to make a fool of myself. So I'll dance, but it will probably take some convincing.

I'm jealous of those people who can get out on the dance floor and shake what their momma gave them. They don't care what you think--they're just having fun. And thus comes the balance beam of life. Do you want to be too far to the right where it's safe and you don't have to dance and there's no chance of making a fool of yourself? Or would you rather say to heck with it all and dance your heart out and risk looking ridiculous--but still have fun?

This question applies to almost every situation in life and I've found in the last year or so that my mantra has become 'balance.' I'm always trying to find the balance. I want to be free, but not disrespectful or rude. Many rules (those on paper and those just understood in life) may seem stupid or pointless, but you have to search for balance. Some rules are meant to be fought, but others are not worth looking arrogant over. So how do you find the balance?

I keep thinking of a wedding I went to in which there were people from both ends of the spectrum. Some were dressed to the hilt and others looked like they just got back from taking a month-long hike on the Appalachian Trail. The excuse of the the under-achieving dresser was that no one would be looking at him--they'd be looking at the bride. Is that so? Not so much, skippy. Out of respect for all the work they've put into this wedding (and out of respect for the importance of the occasion) and out of respect for those who have eyes, please go change into something clean. It would also be nice if it matched. When you look that ridiculous, people will notice that you stick out like a sore thumb. And deep down, I believe he was also just being rebellious and arrogant. If you are fighting a rule just to be rebellious, then please sit down and get over yourself. If you have a legitimate reason, then feel free to fight. Once again, look for the balance. You don't want to let your life be overcome with meaningless rules and regulations, but you also don't want to disrespect others.

Maybe the key here is selflessness. Stop thinking about your own comfort, vanity and pride and ask yourself what you can do for others. Does someone really want you to dance because they just want to share that time and opportunity with you? Then get up off your duff and dance! Did someone spend months planning something and is making the largest commitment of their life and wants you to share in the experience? Then show some selfless respect and take a shower.

September 14, 2007

Thus begins the journey

Call me crazy, but whether or not to start a blog has actually been a personal debate raging in my head for a while. Who would read it and do I really have anything substantial to say to the world? It would be one thing if I were going through a major life change (moving to another country, getting married, having a child, etc.), but I'm just going through life, normal as can be. Or at least normal by my terms.

So let's start things out right. Hello--my name is Tiffany. I'm in my early twenties and I'm the editor of in-house publications (monthly magazine, weekly bulletin, website, etc.) for a church. I like my job because it's four million times better than my previous employment. I'm moving next week to a townhouse near the airport and I'm very excited. Part of that excitement comes from the fact that I'll be near the airport. Folks, I love the airport. If you ever need a ride to or from RDU airport, let me know. Any time. Any day.

I'm also excited because it's something new and I enjoy change. I like new things and surprises and new adventures. I also enjoy pocket change. The jingle and the extra weight and different sizes--love it. Many other things are exciting about this whole moving thing, but I'm already getting long-winded. So I'll stop now.

So what will this blog be for? My thoughts on life, current events, personal life events, general ramblings and epiphanies. In other words--it will be for writing whatever I feel like writing on any particular day. So sit back, relax and don't judge me and my Christian feminist ideals.